Recent experimental results demonstrated that polymer grafted nanoparticles in solvents display self-assembly behavior similar to the microphase separation of block copolymers and other amphiphiles. We present a mean-field theory and complementary computer simulations to shed light on the parametric underpinnings of the experimental observations. Our theory suggests that such self-assembled structures occur most readily when the nanoparticle size is comparable to the radius of gyration of the polymer brush chains. Much smaller particle sizes are predicted to yield uniform particle dispersions, while larger particles are expected to agglomerate due to phase separation from the solvent. Selected aspects of our theoretical predictions are corroborated by computer simulations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry